I can’t quite imagine how to be 95 years old, although I think that Ophelia Lutrell gave us a good example of how it’s done. Not a single person over these last few years has said that Ophelia was anything but sweet and kind. To her daughter Jacque, she is “my little sweetie;” to her granddaughter Leigh, she is “muv.” And Muv learned somewhere along the way that it’s okay to eat dessert first, and in the middle, especially if the dessert was cake. Good for her.
Jacque’s little sweetie is no longer feeling the pain in her knee, no longer feeling the aches that accompany an aging body. She is fully healed, restored, and face to face with Jesus. Can we even imagine such joy? She does not want us to mourn her death, but we do. And we will. We remember that Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus; it is certainly okay for us to cry, to grieve, and to be sad. We follow the example of Jesus.
Today is also a celebration, our Christian act of hope in our sure and certain resurrection. Ophelia now knows a whole new life in the arms of our Lord. She is is dancing with the angels, probably teaching them the Charleston.
We have watched this week as words of Scripture brought calm into Ophelia’s labored breathing, as the psalms lifted us up and brought us a few moments of peace. We prayed the power and beauty of the Lord’s prayer, following His example the best that we could. We shared in the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. We have been fed with Christ, nourished in His Word. Through it all, God was present.
Mrs. Ophelia died and rose to new life in a peaceful, powerful way. As we prayed the words of the 23rd psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want,” she stopped breathing. After a few more deep breaths, she left this world. One day, we too, will walk through that valley of the shadow of death. We, too, will have no fear … will be welcomed by our Savior … filled completely with His love.
Thank you, Lord, for the life of Rebecca Ophelia Lutrell. Be with us in these days as we mourn, cry, and comfort one another. Help our memories give us comfort, peace. Thank you for life, for resurrection, and for new life with you. Help us, Lord, to replace our tears with the deep joy and the promise of You. Until we meet again, Ophelia, dance with the angels. Amen, amen.